Puslapio vaizdai

a few miles of level road, — struggling up hill, - rattling through another pavemented town, — striking into the country again, we came to another long ascent. As we toiled to the top, a postilion, having the care of five return horses, joined company with ours, the two men walking up hill together, while their beasts paced slowly on, with drooping heads and smoking sides. Now and then, when the road was less steep, and levelled into trottingground, the postilions climbed to their seats, ours on his rightful box-seat, the other on an impromptu one, which he made for himself upon a sack of corn slung beneath the front windows of the coupé, and while our horses fell into an easy jog, we could see the return ones go on before at a swagging run, with their loosened harness tossing and hanging from them as they took their own course, now on one side of the way, now on the other, according to the promptings of their unreined fancy.

Suddenly, at a turn of the road, we came upon an undistinguishable something, which, when our eyes could pierce through and beyond the immediate light afforded by our diligencelamp, we discovered to be another diligence leaning heavily over a ditch, while its conductor and postilion were at their horses' heads, endeavoring to make them extricate it from its awkward position. This, however, was a feat beyond the poor beasts' strength; and our conductor, after a few "Sacramentos" at this new delay, got down and ran to see what could be done to help them out of the scrape. It had been occasioned partly by the carelessness of the conductor, who, unlike ours, (for the latter was a man of good sense and judgment, self-possessed, and perfectly attentive to the duties of his office,) had neglected to light the diligence-lamp, and partly by the obstinacy of a drunken postilion, who insisted on keeping too close to the ditch side of the road, while he instinctively avoided the precipice side. Nearly two mortal hours was our diligence detained, during which time our cattle were taken

from their traces and harnessed to those of the half-overturned coach, in various attempts to dislodge it. The first resulted in a further locking of the wheel against a projecting point of rock, and an additional bundling sideways of the leaning diligence; the second was made by attaching the horses to the back of it, while the men set their strength to the wheels, endeavoring to push them round by main force in aid of the straining team. The weight of the heavilyloaded coach resisted their efforts to move it; and then the passengers were requested to descend. Out into the rain and mud and darkness they came, warned by our conductor, in his prompt, thoughtful way, to beware of stumbling over the precipitous cliff, which dropped straight from the roadside there, hundreds of feet down, into the sea. We could hear the dash of the waves far below, as our conductor's voice sounded out clear and peremptory, uttering the timely reminder; we could hear the words of two French commis-voyageurs, coming from the ditch-sunk diligence, making some facetious remark, one to the other, about their present adventure being very much like some of Alexandre Dumas's Impressions de Voyage; we could hear the cries and calls of the men refastening the horses, and preparing to push anew at the wheels; we could distinguish a domestic party dismounting from the back portion of the other diligence, consisting of a father and mother with their baby and the bonne; we could see the little white cap covered up carefully with a handkerchief by the young mother, while the father held an umbrella over their heads, and conducted them to the counterpart portion of our diligence, where the family took refuge during the fresh attempts to drag theirs forth.

Then there came a tap against our coupé window, and an unmistakably British accent was heard to say: "Anglais? Anglais?" Tap — tap — tap. "Any English here?"

Velvet-cap let the window down, and answered in his cheerfullest tone, "Yes."

This reply seemed to rejoice the heart of the inquirer, who immediately rejoined, "Oh! - Well, I really wished to know if there were any one here who could understand me. These fellows don't comprehend one word that I say; and I can't speak one word of their jabber. Just listen to them! What a confounded row they keep up! Parcel of stupid brutes! If I could only have made myself understood, I could have told them how to get it out in a minute. Confounded thing this, ain't it? Kept last night, too, by something of the same kind of accident; and I could n't get those stupid fellows to make out what I meant, and give me my carpet-bag."

Polite condolences from Velvet-cap. "I say, are these your Italian skies? Is Nice no better than this? By George, I did n't come here for this, though!"

Assurances of the unusually bad weather this season from Velvet-cap.

"No, but just hark! what a confounded row and jabber those fellows keep up."

A simultaneous "Ee-ye-ho! eeyuch-yuch!" came from the striving men at this moment, and our British acquaintance, with a hasty "Good night!" hurried off to see the result. It was this time a successful one; the leaning diligence was plucked out, restored to an upright position, and its passengers were reassembled. Once more on its way, our conductor returned to his own coach; and, with the help of our postilion, reharnessed our horses. But the difficulty now was to start them. Tired with their unexpected task of having to tug at another and a stuck-fast diligence, - made startlish with having to stand in the rain and chill night air, in the open road, while the debates were going on as to the best method of attaching them to the sunken vehicle, when once put back into their own traces, they took to rearing and kicking instead of proceed ing. It is by no means amusing to sit in a diligence behind five plunging horses, on a cliff-road, one edge of VOL. XVIII. -NO. 107.


which overhangs the sea, and the other consists of a deep ditch or water-way, beneath a sheer upright rock,- "when rain and wind beat dark December "; and even after whip and whoop had succeeded in prevailing on the rearers and kickers to "take the road" again, that road proved so unprecedentedly bad as almost to render futile the struggles of the poor beasts. They did their best; they strained their haunches, they bent their heads forward, they actually made leaps of motion, in trying to lug the clogged wheels on through the sludge and clammy soil; but this was a mauvais pas, where the cantonniers' good offices in road-mending had been lately neglected, and it seemed almost an impossibility to get through with our tired cattle. However, the thing was achieved, and the town of San Remo at length reached.

Here, with a change of horses, it was now our turn to have a drunken postilion; whom our conductor, after seizing him by the collar with both hands, permitted to mount to his high seat and gather up the reins, there being no other driver to be had. Smacking his long whip with an energy that made the night-echoes resound far and wide, galloping his horses up hill at a rate that swayed the coach to and fro and threatened speedy upsetting, screaming and raving like a wild Indian uttering his battle-cry, our charioteer pursued his headlong course, until brought to a stop by something that suddenly obstructed his career.

A voice before us shouted out, "We must all go back to San Remo!"

A silence ensued; and then our conductor got down, running forward to see what was the matter. The three in the coupé saw their alert friend of the banquette descend; which caused Velvet-cap to bestir himself, and let down the window. Not obtaining any satisfactory information by looking out into the darkness and confusion, he opened the door also, and called to some one to help him forth. Whereupon he found himself in the arms of

the maudlin postilion; who, taking him doubtless for some foreign lady passenger in great alarm, hugged him affectionately, stuttering out, "N'ayez pas peur! Point de danger! point de danger!"

"Get off with you, will you?" was the ejaculation from Velvet-cap, as he pushed away the man, and went in search of his alert friend.

The latter soon came running back to the coach-side, bidding the sisters get out quickly and come and look at what was well worth seeing.

It was indeed! There lay a gigantic mass of earth, stones, and trees, among which were several large blocks of solid rock, hurled across the road, showing a jagged outline against the night-sky, like an interposing mountain-barrier but just recently dropped in their path. The whole had fallen not an hour ago; and it was matter of congratulation to the four, that it had not done so at the very moment their diligence passed beneath.

There was nothing to be done but what the voice (which proved to be that of the conductor belonging to the other diligence) had proposed, namely, to go back to San Remo.

Here the travellers of both diligences soon arrived; the four, as they passed to their rooms, hearing the British accent on the landing, in disconsolate appeal to a waiter: "Oh! - look here, sack, you know, sack, sack!" "Oui, monsieur; votre sac de nuit. Il est en bas, —en bas, sur la diligence. On le montera bientôt."

The lady whose spirits rose at night was flitting about, brisk as a bee, getting morsels of bread and dipping them into wine to revive her sister; who, worn out with fatigue and exhaustion, sat in a collapsed and speechless state on a sofa.

Next morning, however, she was herself again, and able to note the owner of the British accent, who had certainly obtained his desired carpetbag, since there he was, at the coupé window, brushed and beaming, addressing Velvet-cap with, "Excuse me, as

an Englishman; but, could you oblige me with change for a napoleon? I want it to pay my bill with. They could get some from the next shop, if these jabbering fellows would but understand, and go and try."

The morning-animated sister was now also able to observe upon the more promising aspect of the weather, which was evidently clearing up; for it not only did not rain, but showed streaks of brightness over the sea, in lines between the hitherto unbroken gray clouds. She adverted to the pleasant look of the cap-lifting cantonniers, as they stood drawn up and nodding encouragement at the diligence, near the mass of earth which had fallen overnight; and which they, by dint of several hours' hard work from long before dawn, had sufficiently dug away to admit of present passage. She said how comforting the sight of their honest weather-lined faces was, bright with the touch of morning and early goodhumor.

This brought a muttered rejoinder from the other sister; who, huddled up in one corner, still half asleep, remarked that the faces of the cantonniers were surely far more comforting when visible by the light of the diligence-lamp, coming to bring succor amid darkness and danger.

"But it is precisely because they are never to be seen during the darkness, when danger is increased by there rarely being help at hand, that I dread and dislike night," returned Morninglover.

"How oppressive the scent of those truffles is, the first thing after breakfast!" exclaimed Night-favorer.

"I had not yet perceived it," replied Morning-lover. plied Morning-lover. "Last evening, indeed, after a whole day's haunting with it, the smell of that hamper of truffles which the conductor took up at Finale was almost insupportable; but now, in the fresh morning air, it is anything but disagreeable. I shall never hereafter encounter the scent of truffles without being forcibly reminded of all the incidents of this journey. That

smell seems absolutely interwoven with images of torrent-crossing, cliff-falling, pouring rain, and roaring waves."

The talk fell upon associations of sense with events and places; sounds, sights, and scents, intimately connected with and vividly recalling certain occurrences of our lives. We had missed the glimpse of the baby face and little white cap from the back of the diligence that preceded us during the first portion of the day, owing to our coach having been delayed at Ventimiglia by some peculiar arrangement which required the team that had dragged us up a steep ascent to stop and bait, merely resting instead of changing, before we went on again.

The Pont St. Louis, with the picturesque ravine it crosses, had been passed, and the pretty town of Mentone was full in view, when we caught sight of the other diligence, some way on the road before us, brought once more to a stand-still, while a crowd of persons surrounded it, and its passengers were to be seen, in the distance, descending, with the baby cap among them. At this instant, an excited French official darted out from a doorway by the side of the road near us, raising his arms distractedly, and throwing his sentences up at the conductor, who understood him to say that there was no going on; that a whole garden had come tumbling down across the road just at the entrance to Mentone, and prevented passing.

We drove on to the spot, and found it was indeed so; the grounds of a villa, skirting the highway on a terraceledge, had been loosened by the many days' rain, and had fallen during the forenoon, a heap of ruins, shrubs, plants, garden-walls, flowers, borders, railings, one mass of obstruction.

With a glance at the coupé passengers, another French official (the newlyappointed frontier custom-house being close at hand) stepped forward to suggest that the "insides" could be accommodated, during the interim required for the cantonniers to do their work, at a lately-built hotel he pointed

to; but the four agreed to spend the time in walking round by the path above the obstruction, so as to see its whole extent.

The wet, percolating and penetrating through the softer soil, gradually accumulates a weight of water behind and beneath the harder and rockier portions, which dislodges them from their places, pushes them forward, and finally topples them over headlong. This is generally prevented where terrace-walls are built up, by leaving holes here and there in the structure, which allow the wet to drain through innocuously; but if, as in the present instance, this caution be neglected, many days' successive rain is almost sure to produce the disaster in question. It had a woful look, — all those garden elegances cast there, flung out upon the high-road, like discarded rubbish; pots of selected flowers, favorite seats, well-worn paths, carefully-tended beds, trailing climbers, torn and snapped branches, all lying to be shovelled away as fast as the roadmenders could ply their pickaxes and spades.

At length this task was accomplished; the diligences were hauled over the broken ground (their contents being also "hauled over at the custom-house); the passengers (after the important ceremonial of handing their passports for inspection, and having them handed back by personages who kept their countenances wonderfully) were in again and off again.

But one more torrent to cross, where the foremost coach had nearly been overset, and where the occupants of the hindmost one, profiting by example, got out and walked over the footbridge, in time to behold the owner of the British accent wave his hat triumphantly from the coupé with a hearty (English) "Huzza!" as the vehicle recovered, by a violent lurch to the left, from an equally violent one to the right, issuing scathless from the last flood that lay in the way, and then both diligences began at a leisurely pace to crawl up a long ascent of road, bordered on each side by olive-grounds; - until the

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view opened to a fine stretch of prospect, now colored and vivified by a glance of the afternoon sun, —- the diminutive peninsular kingdom of Monaco, lying down in the very sea, bright, and green, and fairy-like; the bold barren crag of the Turbia rock frowning sternly in front, with its antique Roman tower and modern Italian church; the rocky heights above to the right, with their foreground of olive-trees, vine-trellises, and orange-groves, interspersed with country - houses; while through all wound the ever-climbing road, a white thread in the distance, with the telegraphic poles, dwindled to pin-like

dimensions, indicating its numberless turns and bends.

As the sun sank over the far western lines of the Estrelle Mountains, and the sky faded into grayish purple, succeeded by an ever-deepening suffusion of black, unpierced by a single star, the high reach of road above Villafranca Bay was passed; and, on our turning the corner of the last intervening upland, full in view came the many lights of Nice, with its castled rock, its minarets and cupolas, its stretch of sea, its look of sheltered repose; -all most welcome to sight, after our sensational journey on the Cornice Road in a great rain.


NEVER had Portland looked more

beautiful than when the sunrisegun boomed across the waters, announcing the ninetieth anniversary of our independence. The sun, which on another day should look down on the city's desolation, rose unclouded over the houses, that stood forth from the foliage of the embowering elms, or nestled in their shadow; over the quaintness of the old-fashioned churches and the beauty of the more modern temples; over the stately public edifices, and the streets everywhere decked with flags and thronged with crowds of happy, well-dressed people. Of course, the popular satisfaction expressed itself in the report of pistols, guns, and fire-crackers; and all through the day the usual amusements went on, and in the afternoon almost everybody was on the

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shape of a fire-cracker, and lo! half the city was doomed.

My youngest brother, at the first sound of the bell, came and begged me to take him to the fire; so I went, to please him. Poor child! I little thought that by twelve o'clock at night there would be no place at home to lay the little head.

We found the fire near Brown's sugarhouse, where there was a large crowd already assembled. But, though the smoke and masses of flame were rising only from one house, the wind was blowing a perfect gale; and a foreboding of the calamity impending seemed to possess the spectators. There was none of the usual noise, and men appeared to look at the burning house with a feeling of awe. We did not stop there at all; and some idea of the rapid progress of the fire may be gathered from the fact, that about four squares distant, where, on the way up, we could see one fire, on our return we saw three,-two lighted by sparks from the first. We slowly retraced our way, and met people on every side quickening their steps in the direction of the fire.

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